Sonoran Desert Granola

With coconut yogurt, western redbud and manzanita flowers

After harvesting the various desert fruits and seeds throughout the year, it has become time to clear out the pantry in preparation for the next season of harvest. The base of this granola is made with raw sprouted and dehydrated buckwheat groats which are light and airy but give a satisfying crunch. These were a key gluten free staple back in my raw vegan days and still keep their place on the shelf.

Desert Fruits: Featured here are the iconic prickly pear and saguaro cactus fruits (dehydrated and ground pulp), wolfberries, and elderberries. Other berries such as hack berry would also be a great addition, but last year I ate them all fresh and didn’t save any. Saguaro had an excellent year so I have tons of dried fruit and the seeds are abundant, so I used quite a bit here.

Desert Seeds: From barrel cactus seeds to saguaro seeds and of course one of my favorites, ironwood beans, all ended up in this granola. The ironwood beans have better flavor when toasted, so I roasted them briefly in an iron skillet… ironic, for ironwood, right? Plus, a little bit of mesquite bean flour for that nutty sweetness.

Making granola is usually very intuitive for me so it all depends on what you have on hand and ingredients can be substituted easily. Don’t have wolfberries? Easy, they are a close relative to the commercially available goji berries. Used all your elderberries for syrup over the winter? No worries, dried blueberries can be a stand-in. The seeds can also be swapped for any of your typically available or locally foraged seeds if you enjoy their flavor. Here’s my generic recipe to get you started:


3 parts buckwheat groats
1/2 part elderberries
1/2 part wolfberries
1/4 part barrel cactus seeds
1/4 part saguaro seeds & fruit powder
1/4 part ironwood beans, toasted
1/8 part mesquite powder
1/8 part prickly pear powder
1/8 part agave or maple syrup
Sea salt to taste

Sprout the buckwheat groats by soaking in three times the amount of filtered or spring water to cover. Allow to absorb the water, adding more if necessary to keep covered. Soak for 4-6 hours. Rinse very thoroughly. Add remaining ingredients and mix well. Spread onto dehydrator sheets and dehydrate just until dry. An oven on its lowest setting also works well.

Enjoy on top of yogurt, ice cream, acai, and more!

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About Jess

Jess Starwood

Jess Starwood is an established author, chef, herbalist and educator. She holds a Masters of Science degree in Herbal Medicine and Holistic Nutrition. In 2021, she wrote and photographed her first book, Mushroom Wanderland: A Forager’s Guide to Finding, Identifying and Using More Than 25 Wild Fungi.

She also writes regularly for Edible Ojai & Ventura County, Edible San Fernando magazines and The Mycophile—the publication of the North American Mycological Association (NAMA).

Jess founded The Wild Path School where she teaches foraging, wild foods, herbalism and nature education classes for adults and children. She is a member of the Culinary Committee for NAMA and is on the board of directors for the Arizona Mushroom Society and the newsletter editor for the Los Angeles Mycological Society. She has also worked as a wild food consultant and forager for Michelin starred chefs Niki Nakayama and Aitor Zabala. Jess has been featured in National Geographic, The Guardian, and the Orange County Register.

Classes and workshops for adults and children are held regularly in the Greater Los Angeles area and west coast. Weekend and week-long wild food adventures are also occasionally available. Be sure to check out the event calendar or join the mailing list to be notified first of openings and availability.